Those Dyin’ British Actors


I just learned from Rondi that Edward Woodward is dead. Most of you will remember him from that great American TV drama, The Equalizer. That show represented something sorely missing from current entertainment media: recognition of the skills of the middle aged. Rather than a team of models-cum-martial artists, all with genius IQs and deep histories going back decades beyond their actual ages, The Equalizer was about a retired British secret service agent who righted wrongs on the tough streets of the USA.

I loved Woodward in one of the creepiest of understated British horror films, The Wicker Man (the original, not the ridiculous Nicholas Cage remake). His son, Peter Woodward, is also a successful, though lesser known, actor, most noted in my world for his excellent and creepy portrayal of Galen, the “technomage” in the Babylon 5 spin-off, Crusade.

You also may not know that Edward Woodward had a key role in the recent (2007) Simon Pegg comedy, Hot Fuzz. Edgar Wright, the director of that film, has a tribute to Woodward on his website. Wright links to this Youtube clip of the opening of one of Woodward’s early UK dramas, Callan. As Wright put it, “Edward Woodward was badass”.

I find it pretty cool when serious British actors pop up in bit roles in their twilight years. Another example of that was the late great Patrick McGoohan‘s role as British King “Longshanks” (Edward I) in the Mel Gibson epic, Braveheart.

I will always lump the two with Richard Harris, who in his twilight years played Dumbledore, far more convincingly, in my opinion, than his replacement, Michael Gambon. I always thought Heath Ledger was on track to become the next Richard Harris.

Many people don’t remember that Richard Harris was the voice behind the 1970s epic song, McArthur Park. For some reason, I can never disassociate this fact from the 1981 parody of his performance on SCTV. Here’s Dave Thomas playing Richard Harris doing McArthur Park:

In terms of classical British actors in their twilight years, who does that leave? Peter O’Toole, of course, most recently seen in a gloriously creepy role as amoral Pope Paul III in The Tudors.

In Other News

Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin claims that Canadian forces engaged to some degree in the illegal detainment and torture of Afghans. Conservative Ministers McKay and Baird deny such allegations and turn to questioning Colvin’s very character. Thus, despite opposition demands, the government has refused to initiate any inquiry into possible abuses.

Hmm, you know what would really help to clear up any of these misunderstandings and allegations? I dunno, evidence of some sort, a smoking gun…. maybe some photos. Because, as we all know, when photos of crimes are taken, any truly responsible and democratic government would enter such photographic evidence into the public record, so that wrongdoers can’t hide behind slandering their accusers or by erecting the wall of denial.

And we all know that no responsible, ethical and democratic government would ever seek to, I dunno, conceal such photos because that would be illegal, unethical, tantamount to criminal conspiracy, and plain old wrong.

Just sayin.